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    Storm Chasers

    “Chasing tornadoes,” says Warren Faidley, “is often like a giant game of 3D-chess played out over thousands of square miles.” The photojournalist and storm chaser adds: “Being in the right place at the right time is a symphony of forecasting and navigation while dodging everything from softball-sized hailstones to dust storms and slow-moving farm equipment.”

    Faidley’s words make my palms sweat. While admiring the raw courage and scientific hunger storm chasers display, I balk at throwing myself into the middle of potentially fatal weather events.

    In my experience, however, I don’t have to chase storms in life—they seem to be chasing me.…

    Here Be Dragons?

    Legend has it that at the edges of medieval maps, marking the boundaries of the world the maps’ creators knew at the time, there’d be inscribed the words “Here be dragons”—often alongside vivid illustrations of the terrifying beasts supposedly lurking there.

    There’s not much evidence medieval cartographers actually wrote these words, but I like to think they could have. Maybe because “here be dragons” sounds like something I might’ve written at the time—a grim warning that even if I didn’t know exactly what would happen if I ventured into the great unknown, it likely wouldn’t be good!

    But there’s one glaring problem…

    The Leaning Tower

    You’ve probably heard of the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, but have you heard of the leaning tower of San Francisco? It’s called the Millennium Tower. Built in 2008, this 58-story skyscraper stands proudly—but slightly crookedly—in downtown San Francisco.

    The problem? Its engineers didn’t dig a deep enough foundation. So now they’re being forced to retrofit the foundation with repairs that may cost more than the entire tower did when it was originally built—a fix that some believe is necessary to keep it from collapsing during an earthquake.

    The painful lesson here? Foundations matter. When your foundation isn’t solid, catastrophe…

    A Designed Deficiency

    There’s a natural spring that rises on the east side of the city of Jerusalem. In ancient times it was the city’s only water supply and was located outside the walls. Thus it was the point of Jerusalem’s greatest vulnerability. The exposed spring meant that the city, otherwise impenetrable, could be forced to surrender if an attacker were to divert or dam the spring.

    King Hezekiah addressed this weakness by driving a tunnel through 1,750 feet of solid rock from the spring into the city where it flowed into the “Lower Pool” (2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:2–4). But in all of…

    Failure Is Impossible

    “Failure is impossible!” These words were spoken by Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906), known for her immovable stance on women’s rights in the US. Though she faced constant criticism and later an arrest, trial, and guilty verdict for voting illegally, Anthony vowed to never give up the fight to gain women the right to vote, believing her cause was just. Though she didn’t live to see the fruit of her labor, her declaration proved true. In 1920, the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution gave women the right to vote.

    Failure wasn’t an option for Nehemiah either, mainly because he had a Powerful…

    Grace at the End

    Artist Doug Merkey’s masterful sculpture Ruthless Trust features a bronze human figure clinging desperately to a cross made of walnut wood. He writes, “It’s a very simple expression of our constant and appropriate posture for life—total, unfettered intimacy with and dependency upon Christ and the gospel.”

    That’s the kind of trust we see expressed in the actions and words of the unnamed woman in Mark 5:25–34. For twelve years her life had been in shambles (v. 25). “She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew…

    Our Guiding Light

    At a museum, I lingered near a display of ancient lamps. A glance at some printed information revealed they were from Israel. Decorated with carved designs, these oval-shaped clay vessels had two openings—one for fuel, and one for a wick. Although the Israelites commonly used them in wall alcoves, each was small enough to fit in the palm of a person’s hand.

    Perhaps a little light like this inspired King David to write a praise song in which he said, “You Lord are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light” (2 Samuel 22:29). David sang these words after God…

    Is There Hope?

    Edward Payson (1783–1827) led an extremely difficult life. The death of his younger brother shook him to the core. He struggled with bipolar disorder, and he was affected by extreme migraine headaches for days. If this wasn’t enough, a fall from a horse lead to paralysis of his arm, and he almost died from tuberculosis! Surprisingly, his response wasn’t one of despair and hopelessness. His friends said that before Edward passed away, his joy was intense. How could that be?

            In his letter to the believers in Rome, the apostle Paul expressed his complete confidence in the reality of God’s…

    Beautifully Burdened

    I awoke to pitch darkness. I hadn’t slept more than thirty minutes and my heart sensed that sleep wouldn’t return soon. A friend’s husband lay in the hospital, having received the dreaded news, “The cancer is back—in the brain and spine now.” My whole being hurt for my friends. What a heavy load! And yet, somehow my spirit was lifted through my sacred vigil of prayer. You might say I felt beautifully burdened for them. How could this be?

    In Matthew 11:28–30, Jesus promises rest for our weary souls. Strangely, His rest comes as we bend under His yoke and embrace His…

    Dad, Where Are You?

    “Dad! Where are you?”

    I was pulling into our driveway when my daughter, panicking, called me on my cell. I’d needed to be home by 6:00 to get her to play practice; I was on time. My daughter’s voice, however, betrayed her lack of trust. Reflexively, I responded: “I’m here. Why don’t you trust me?”

    But as I spoke those words, I wondered, How often could my heavenly Father ask that of me? In stressful moments, I too am impatient. I too struggle to trust, to believe God will keep His promises. So I cry out: “Father, where are you?”

    Amid stress and…

    Never Give Up Hope

    When my friend received a diagnosis of cancer, the doctor advised her to get her affairs in order. She called me, sobbing, worried about her husband and young children. I shared an urgent prayer request with our mutual friends. We rejoiced when a second doctor encouraged her to never give up hope and confirmed his team would do all they could to help. Though some days were harder than others, she focused on God instead of the odds stacked against her. She never gave up.

    My friend’s persevering faith reminds me of the desperate woman in Luke 8. Weary from twelve…

    No Longer Afraid

    When the Ethiopian police found her, a week after her abduction, three black-maned lions surrounded her, guarding her as though she was their own. Seven men had kidnapped the twelve-year-old girl, carried her into the woods and beaten her. Miraculously, however, a small pride of lions heard the girl’s cries, came running and chased off the attackers. “[The lions] stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest,” police Sgt. Wondimu told one reporter.

    There are days when violence and evil, like that inflicted on this young girl, overpower…

    The Safest Place

    As Hurricane Florence was bearing down on Wilmington, North Carolina, with devastating force, my daughter prepared to leave her home. She had waited until the last moment, hoping the storm would veer away. But now she was hurriedly sorting through important papers, pictures, and belongings, trying to decide what to take with her. “I didn’t expect it would be so hard to leave,” she told me later, “but in that moment I didn’t know if anything would be there when I got back.”

    Life’s “storms” come in many forms: hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, unexpected problems in marriage or with children, the…

    Walk Like a Warrior

    Eighteen-year-old Emma faithfully talks about Jesus on social media, even though bullies have criticized her joy and enthusiastic love for Christ. Some have attacked her with remarks about her physical appearance. Others have suggested a lack of intelligence because of her devotion to God. Though the unkind words cut deep into Emma’s heart, she continues to spread the gospel with bold faith and love for Jesus and others. Sometimes, though, she’s tempted to believe her identity and worth are determined by the criticism of others. When that happens, she asks God for help, prays for her persecutors, meditates on the…

    The Main Actor

    I once heard about a student taking a class in preaching at a prominent seminary. The student, a young man who was a bit full of himself, delivered his sermon with eloquence and evident passion. He sat down self-satisfied, and the professor paused a moment before responding. “That was a powerful sermon,” he said. “It was well-organized and moving. The only problem is that God was not the subject of a single one of your sentences.”

    The professor highlighted a problem all of us struggle with at times: We can talk as if we’re the primary actor (emphasizing what we do,…

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